Jan. 20, 2016
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LONG BEACH - The Long Beach State women's basketball team led by as many as 18 before holding off a second-half Titan rally to defeat Cal State Fullerton, 62-57, Wednesday evening at the Walter Pyramid.
"I thought we moved the ball really well and guarded the 3-point line in the first half," head coach Jody Wynn said. "Then we started off the third quarter with three-straight turnovers. We lost our focus and intensity. Also, give credit to Cal State Fullerton, they played harder than we did in that third quarter."
Junior Raven Benton led the Beach with a game-high 22 points on an 8-for-12 shooting performance. Junior Jewelyn Sawyer also finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds, marking her third double-double of the season. Sophomore Gigi Hascheff chipped in nine points, while junior Anna Kim matched her career high with five steals.
The 49ers (14-5, 3-2 Big West) shot 39.6 percent from the field and were 9-of-25 from 3-point range. They finished with a season-best 16 steals and ended up forcing CSF into 23 turnovers.
Benton started the game with a 3-pointer and Long Beach State raced out to a 12-0 lead at the 4:04 mark. Benton had eight points during that six-minute stretch. Cal State Fullerton finally got on the board with 3:16 remaining, but Hascheff answered with a three and LBSU took a commanding 22-6 advantage at the end of the first quarter.
The Beach continued to roll in the second period as it went up, 26-8, on a Jessica Gertz 3-pointer. The 49ers stayed out front by at least 14 and held a 37-21 cushion at the half.
The Titans scored the first five points of the third frame to close the gap to 11, but Long Beach State came back with a 6-0 spurt, capped by Hascheff's third triple of the night, to push the lead to 17 (43-26) at the 6:52 mark. CSF stayed in it, however, as it answered with a 12-2 run, making it a seven-point game. Sawyer then scored the final three points to put the Beach on top, 48-38.
Cal State Fullerton (2-16, 0-4 Big West) took the momentum back early in the fourth quarter as Dani Craig made a couple of threes to spark a 10-3 rally that cut the deficit to three at 51-48 with 5:54 remaining. Benton then took matters into her own hands, scoring the next 10 points for LBSU. Her jumper with 2:03 to play put the 49ers up, 59-52. After Craig hit another 3-pointer, Benton was fouled and connected on both free throws. Craig nearly made it a three-point game again with 18.1 seconds left as she made a layup and was fouled, but missed the free throw as the Beach held on for the 62-57 win.
Craig led the Titans with 16 points, all of which came in the second half. Dhanyel Johnson was also 7-of-7 from the field for 15 points, while Michelle Berry contributed 10 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and four steals, but also committed nine turnovers.
Long Beach State is off this weekend and will return to action with a road game at UC Davis on Thursday, Jan. 28.
NOTES: Raven Benton registered her third 20-point game of the season and ninth of her career ... She now has 910 career points ... Jewelyn Sawyer is the only 49er with multiple double-doubles this season (3) ... Madison Montgomery notched her eighth game with two or more blocks ... The Beach, which made a Big West and school record 20 3-pointers in its first meeting with Cal State Fullerton, finished with nine tonight for an average of 14.5 per game in its regular-season series with the Titans ... LBSU and CSF are tied for first in the conference with 122 3-pointers made on the year ... Long Beach State has now won five in a row against Cal State Fullerton and leads the all-time series, 71-40 ... Sophomore Jessica Gertz made 20-straight free throws before her first career miss in the second quarter of tonight's game.